Tropical Treat

Snack on Vitamin-C packed pineapple and you'll feel like you're on vacation-and reap health benefits too..



Besides coconut, pineapple is perhaps the fruit that most quintessentially represents the taste of the tropics. Featuring a spiny exterior and nectarous, juicy flesh, a pineapple is actually a fusion of multiple berries that grow around the core and combine to form that delicious fruit we love to slice, grill, blend and bake.

Power Up

Like most fruits, pineapples have a knack for satisfying a sweet tooth without packing on the pounds. One cup of diced fruit has only 82 calories, no fat, and a whopping 130 percent of the daily-recommended amount of immune-boosting vitamin C for someone on a 2,000-calorie diet. It’s also high in manganese (76 percent of the daily recommended value), which promotes bone health and helps with metabolism, and contains bromelain, a mixture of enzymes that have been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation, treating osteoarthritis and aiding in digestion. One caveat: Pineapple is particularly high in sugar, with 16 grams in each cup, so as difficult as it may be, enjoy in moderation.

Buy/Store/Serve

When selecting a pineapple, look for bright, green leaves and the absence of any bruises or squishy spots. Pineapples are already ripe and ready to eat once they hit supermarkets (they do not ripen further as bananas and avocados do), so don’t be deterred if the fruit appears green on the outside—that’s perfectly normal.

Once purchased, it should be eaten within a few days for optimal freshness (or within four days if it’s kept in the refrigerator). You can serve a pineapple plain and raw (a quick Google search will reveal many creative ways to cut and serve the fruit), turn it into a refreshing salsa (mix it with cilantro, red onion, a serrano pepper, lime juice, and salt*), grill it on kebabs with chicken or shrimp, or try it on a pizza (trust us on this!). Also, the bromelain it contains works as a natural meat tenderizer, making it ideal for a marinade for steak, pork and other meats. Other ways to use the sweet treat? Try pineapple in ice cream, salad dressing, smoothies and even cocktails.

Did You Know?

Christopher Columbus may be best known for his discovery of the New World, but the Italian explorer is also responsible for introducing the pineapple to Europeans, according to the California Rare Fruit Growers organization. Columbus first found the fruit, which was originally domesticated by Indians, in Guadalupe in 1493 and brought it back with him to Spain. From there, it was passed on to the Philippines and other tropical areas.

 

"Pineapple contains 2–3 grams of insoluble fiber per serving, which binds with water and helps food move through the digestive tract for proper digestion. Insoluble fibers feed healthy bacteria in the digestive tract to promote a balanced gut flora, which may play a role in immune function, fighting inflammation and aiding heart health.” —Dana C. McLaughlin, R.D., Inserra Supermarkets, ShopRite of Wallington

* Recipe courtesy of Whole Foods Market

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